Question: I think I have a desire to make a much bigger deal of it.
Question: I think I had expectations that it would be some big, great experience, but actually the experience of it is very ordinary. It just feels very clear, very ordinary, and very empty.
Papaji: Yes, from emptiness everything arises. From emptiness all this cosmos has arisen, all this manifestation comprising millions of planets and solar systems. All of these millions of planets hanging in space arose from just one thought that arose from this particle of emptiness. This can happen without affecting the emptiness at all.
Question: Should I try to stay in the emptiness? Thoughts arise in the emptiness. Some of them are attractive; some make me afraid; and some of them are repugnant. I find myself latching onto thoughts and identifying with them. I become those thoughts. I lose sight of the emptiness and the presence until I can remind myself again.
Papaji: If you remind yourself at that time, all is over, all is gone. The best position to take is that of not forgetting. Just play your role, but don’t forget that it is all just a drama on the stage.
Imagine a drama company is putting on a play. The person who has to play the servant of the king falls sick at the last moment and cannot come. No other actors are available, so the proprietor of the company steps in to play the role. In the play the king, who is one of the employees of the proprietor, orders the servant around: ‘Fetch my shoes. I want to go for a walk.’ The proprietor meekly obeys and carries out the orders, but does he ever forget that he is the owner of the company? He is happy to act the role of the servant because all the time that this role is being portrayed he knows that he is really the proprietor.
If you live like this, knowing that you are the Self, you can act anywhere. If you know this, all your activities will be very beautiful, and you will never suffer. Once you have had a glimpse, a knowledge of this emptiness, you will be happy all the time because you will know that all manifestation, all samsara, is your own projection.
Where does all this manifestation rise from? When you are asleep, there is nothing there, is there?
Question: There’s another kind of dreaming then.
Papaji: I am not speaking of dreaming. We can talk about that state later. For now, I’m talking about slumber, deep sleep.
A few years ago I met a team in Rishikesh. Twenty-five people had come from all over the world: psychologists, physiologists, even parapsychologists. They had a very original proposition that they were trying to test: that there are only two states, waking and dreaming. They said that man is either awake or dreaming and that there was really no such state as sleep.
One of them told me, ‘That is what we are discovering in the West. When we put an EEG on a sleeping person’s brain we find that dreaming is going on all the time, even during what appears to be deep sleep.’
In India we say that there are five states: waking, dreaming, sleeping, turiya, and turiyatita.
Question: What is that last one?
Papaji: Turiyatita. Waking, dreaming and sleeping are states you understand. After this there is turiya, the fourth state. This is the state in which the previous three appear and disappear. Beyond that is turiyatita, which means ‘beyond the fourth’.
These scientists were going from ashram to ashram, looking for swamis to test with their equipment. Some of the scientists were part of an astronaut-training programme. Apparently, astronauts were not sleeping well in space, so research was going on, looking for ways to improve their sleeping. There was a theory that some kind of meditation or yoga might improve their sleeping patterns.
These scientists were looking for swamis to test. They wanted to put electrodes on their heads while they were meditating to see what happened to the brain waves during meditation. They tried many people and eventually ended up with a man called Swami Rama. When they arrived he was gardening in his ashram. I was not there at the time, so I got this story second-hand.
They approached him very respectfully and explained their purpose. Then they asked him if he would sit or lie down and meditate while they checked out his brain waves.
He replied, ‘You can attach your wires while I am watering my garden. I don’t need to sit down to meditate.’
The scientists put wires on his head and discovered that, as the swami had said, his mind was not working while he was engaged in his daily gardening chores. They were so impressed, they took him off for further tests.
If you are knowingly established in the substratum, any amount of activities can go on, and you won’t need the mind to do them. The Self will take care of all these things and you will remain in peace at all times.
Let us go back to the three states – waking, dreaming and sleeping – and the underlying fourth state of emptiness. The three states are projected onto that substratum, that background in which sleeping comes and goes, dreaming comes and goes, and waking comes and goes. There is some substratum, some basic foundation on which they all revolve. That foundation, that presence, that space is always there, but while you are preoccupied with outside things, you forget it.
Now, there are three classes of people. In the first category there are those who never ever forget. Under all circumstances they know that everything is taking place in this substratum. These people are the jivanmuktas, which means that they are fully liberated while they are still alive in their bodies. The second category get themselves into trouble because sometimes they remember and sometimes they forget. Awareness of emptiness may be there for a while, but then the memory of a friend who has died may rise up and suddenly they are in grief. They have lost the awareness of that emptiness by attaching themselves to a thought. This kind of emptiness is not abiding; it depends on the whims of mental activities. The people in the third category are suffering all the time. They never have even a glimpse of that original space, that emptiness, and so they suffer endlessly. For them, samsara never ends or even stops briefly.
If you are a member of the very exclusive number one club, you know that whatever manifests is an appearance in your own Self. When you wake up, manifestation arises, but you know that it is all a projection. When you sleep, no manifestation is present, but you, your Self, will still remain. Something will still be there while you sleep, and that something is your own Self.
Question: I am not aware of that presence while I am asleep.
Papaji: Yes, it is because ‘you’ are not present. It is the ‘you’ that you live through that decides these matters. For ‘you’ presence is only felt when there is some obstruction to the awareness of the presence.
Question: ‘When there’s obstruction, I can feel presence, but when there isn’t, I can’t.’ This sounds very paradoxical.
Papaji: Your sense of being a person is the obstruction. Everything, all your experiences, or the lack of them, are mediated through this idea of individuality. This obstruction rises from the presence and you either feel the presence through it, or you are aware of its absence. The presence is there all the time, but you don’t feel it in your deep-sleep state because this mediator, this ‘I’, is not there. You don’t know how to be aware of anything when this ‘I’ is absent, so you declare, ‘Presence is not there when I sleep’.
You use this obstruction to validate all your experiences but it has no inherent validity of its own. Shanti, peace, was there before the obstruction arose, and when the obstruction subsides, shanti still prevails. Your inherent nature is this shanti. It is there both when the experiencer is there and when the experiencer is absent.